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Brace up to emerging challenges, MGT charges Secretarial Staff

For secretarial staff in Nigerian Universities to remain relevant in the scheme of things, they must adapt to rapid changes in global technological development and brace themselves for the challenges of hybrid work environment. Besides, they must also constantly embrace training opportunities towards improving their efficiency and work ethics.

The foregoing submission was made by the Vice-Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde, at a recent In-house Training/Workshop organised by the University Secretarial Staff Association (USSA). The Workshop had as theme, “Current Smart Office.” It also featured lectures entitled “Transition from the Traditional Office to the Smart Office” and “Uses of Cloud in the Current Smart Office.”

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Charles Adekoya, underscored the importance of secretarial staff in the administration of the University. According to him, secretaries occupy very unique and significant positions that could be hard to fill in tertiary institutions.

He advised the participants to appreciate the fact that modern technology had tremendously impacted the nature of their work, stressing that for them to continue to be relevant, they must move with the tide and be on top of their game. He assured that the University Management would not relent in complementing their efforts in manpower development.

The Vice-Chancellor said, “I have had cause to work with some of you, I know the quality of your members and I want to say the role you are playing is wonderful. Nobody can fill your gap. However, my charge to you is to keep it in mind that we are in a technological era. Technology has taken over virtually all the things we are doing. So, as secretaries, for us to continue to be relevant, we have to be on top of our game.”

A cross-section of participants at the Workshop

He added, “If we want to continue to be relevant, we have to keep pace with the changes in time. The truth is: anywhere you are working or any kind of job that you are doing, people would respect you if you are on top of your job.”

“You don’t need to ask for respect, once you are good at what you do, naturally people will respect you. In the past, typewriter used to be common. But these days, you hardly see anybody using typewriter again. This is age of computers. So, you have to change with the time for you to continue to be relevant.”

Prof. Olatunde reiterated the commitment of the University Management to the regular provision of facilities to enhance the work of secretarial staff in the institution. He stated that the problem of inadequate furniture in some offices would soon be a thing of the past following the recent disbursement of a Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) grant to the University.
“By the grace of God, the University is trying to provide facilities to make work easy for staff and ensure conducive environment. The University has got a TETFund grant for furnishing. In fact, the contract has been awarded; N116million to buy furniture for our staff. So, by the grace of God, we will not have cases of shortage of furniture again,” he added.

The Vice-Chancellor appreciated the unflinching support of USSA members for the present University Management, urging them to sustain the support going forward.

Also speaking, the Registrar, Mr Femi Ogunwomoju, commended the leadership of USSA for organising the training programme and enjoined the members to take advantage in order to improve their skills.
Ogunwomoju said, “I must commend the Executive of this association for doing a very good job and, even, for finding it worthy and important that this kind of training takes place. This is part of welfare of members. Welfare goes beyond annual gifts and parties but it is also good to have some training.

“So, I thank the Executive for organising this very laudable training programme. I urge you all to take advantage of this training to learn new things and to be able to improve on your job schedules. The world is moving at a very fast rate and we need to catch up.”

The Registrar further expressed satisfaction with the move by a lot of the secretarial staff in the University to acquire additional certificates to enhance their proficiency. He pointed out that the University Management was taking notes and would accordingly reward staff with exceptional performance.

He said, “Apart from this training, I’m happy that most of the members are also acquiring additional certificates, even at their own expense, without waiting for anybody to sponsor them. And that’s a very good thing. It also shows that you know that the world is changing and you have to keep abreast of this.

“I commend you individually and as a whole for taking advantage of the opportunities around here to develop yourselves. On the part of the Management, the Management is noting all these laudable initiatives we are taking and at the appropriate time, you  would be rewarded for all the hard work that you are doing.”

Earlier in her welcome address, the USSA Branch Chairperson, Mrs Florence Owolabi, said the workshop was organised in view of the technological revolution at the workplace and the millennial effect in workforce. She added that the imperative of ensuring effective secretarial administration also informed the training.

“It is my sincere belief that if you are a secretarial staff and you do not follow the trend of millennial effect of your workforce and technological revolution in your workplace, you will definitely become ineffective. We dont want to be put aside, hence the quest for change,” she submitted.

Owolabi expressed the hope that participants would, at the end of the Workshop, have a new orientation about their offices and how to discharge their duties to be able to comply with millennial effect in the workforce.

In his lecture, one of the resource persons, Dr Gbenga Akintola, explained that technological revolution is now driving every aspect of human  endeavour, urging secretarial staff not to lag behind. He advised the participants to be mindful of the fact that they are already competing with the generation that was born into technology, adding that they must not relent in adapting to changes.

Akintola, who spoke on “Transition from the Traditional Office to the Smart Office,” declared that smart office improves relationship and economic well-being, reduces stress, simplifies work schedule and fosters productivity, among other benefits.

“Anybody that is not ready to comply with technology will not be fit in this world. This is not about age, it is about behavioural dimension. There is the millennial effect of the workforce. The work you are doing now, the younger generation that was born into technology are already joining you. So, if it’s time for downsizing, who would be the first casualty? People who cannot adapt to change, of course,” he said.

In attendance at the Workshop were Comrades Adedeji Lamina and Rasaki John, the branch chairmen of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) respectively, who both pledged to partner with USSA in achieving its aims and objectives.

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